Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Education Researchers as Bricoleurs in the Creation of Sustainable Learning Environments

Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Education Researchers as Bricoleurs in the Creation of Sustainable Learning Environments

Article excerpt

Background

In this paper I argue that, as South Africans in particular, and as humanity in general, we need research which is multi-layered and multi-perspectival, conducted by many collaborating teams of researchers throughout their entire life, if challenges facing the provision of quality education are to be attended to meaningfully. Bricolage conforms to these requirements because it is:

not uni-dimensional, it tolerates and mirrors the messiness of lived experiences of the people, is best suited to create sustainable learning environments at any level and/ or site of education... it deals with change and transformation of discursive practices and social arrangements. ... bricolage ... enables the researcher/bricoleur to create something out of nothing. It also enables such a researcher to use whatever materials available in one's contexts to re-create anew processes and artefacts necessary for transformatory and emancipatory agenda. Bricolage as research approach is better poised because it thrives paradoxically on making sense of what seems chaotic and contradictory. It also tries to make sense of that which may seem obscure and incomprehensible. Bricolage is multi-layered, multi-perspectival and grounded on one research question being approached from a diversity of theoretical positions (Mahlomaholo, 2013a:4690-4691).

I take it as a given that the debates on whether research should be purely abstract or utilitarian have been resolved in favour of a research that includes both intense conceptualisation which contributes to theory building on the one hand, and practical research which responds to real-life problems on the other. The problems facing the provision of quality education in South Africa are many and very complex (Research on Socio-Economic Policy - ReSEP, 2013), just like it is the case throughout the world, especially in those countries that have been subjected to the injustices of colonisation, oppression and various forms of apartheid (Bereng, 2007; Rolleston & James, 2011; Sheldon, 2006; Spaull, 2011). Thus, to respond to these challenges with the intention of ameliorating and remedying them an equally complex research is required, which in my view is the one proposed, theorised and offered as bricolage (Baker, Miner & Easley, 2003; Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Duymedjian & Rüling, 2010; Kinchloe, 2005; Mahlomaholo, 2013a).

These challenges, as Dooyeweerd would have quipped, emanate from all the modalities of being human (Basden, 2002). Some of them are quantitative, referring to measurement and counting in terms of numbers. Others are physical in nature, coming from the spaces and localities which are occupied by stakeholders, who are learners, educators, teachers, parents and all instances of civil society in education. These sometimes include a lack of or poor infrastructure such as the school buildings - leading to overcrowding in a few available ones - a lack of teaching and learning materials, and resources (ReSEP, 2013). Other problems originate from the physiological dimension of being human. Here, reference is made to problems such as poor nutritional practices, malnutrition, poor ventilation due to air pollution and a lack of food security, which might be as a result of poverty (ReSEP, 2013; Rolleston & James, 2011; Sheldon, 2006). Dooyeweerd (1975), through his Cosmonomic theory as the conceptual framework, identified 15 such modalities of being human, including the two already mentioned (Basden, 2002). Other modalities are the kinematic (movement), the biotic (growth and developmental processes), the psychological, the emotional, the cultural-historical (race, traditions, identity, origins, discursive practices, epistemic communities), the analytical, (cognition, thinking, intellect), the economic (social-class, socio-economic status, poverty, unemployment, inequality), the aesthetic (art, music, appreciation of beauty), the ethical, the social (community, belonging, neighbourhood, country, affiliation), the linguistic (language, communication, inter-subjectivity) the juridical (legal, fairness, justice), and the pistical (faith, religion, beliefs). …

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